Night Sky Gaze
comet

Comet Watching for 2019

There will be several nice comets in 2019, however, the brighter ones will be sparse, while there will also be a couple of leftover comets from 2018 which are still viewable.

Here is a list of comet viewing organized by brightness for 2019…

46P/Wirtanen

Comet 46P/Wirtanen was viewable from January through mid-March. In January it was visible in Ursa Major at about 7th magnitude, in good conditions with the naked eye or otherwise using binoculars, but its visibility shifted to 12th magnitude by mid-March.

38P/Stephan-Oterma

The comet 38P/Stephan-Oterma in will be best viewed between January and mid February before it fades away.

64P/Swift-Gehrels

The comet 64P/Swift-Gehrels will be best viewed in early January within the constellation of Taurus.

PanSTARRS (C/2016 M1)

The PanSTARRS (C/2016 M1) comet is only visible from the southern hemisphere, and can be picked up with a 8-inch telescope or larger once the moon is out of the sky but will fade away after January.

Iwamoto (C/2018 Y1)

The good news is… The comet Iwamoto (C/2018 Y1) is one that isn’t fading and by mid-February will be around a magnitude 7.

29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann

The 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann comet, after a conjunction with the sun in mid-March, will return to the morning skies in late May, moving east and Pisces in may become as bright as magnitude 10.5.

Africano (C/2018 W2)

This comet was only discovered on November 27, 2018 by B. M. Africano (Mount Lemmon Survey) as a 20th-magnitude with a possible tail. It should peak around a magnitude 9 on September 6. By late September, it will move across Pegasus, Pisces and into Aquarius. The best viewing should occur between September 17-October 7, during times when the moon as out of view.

PanSTARRS (C/2017 T2)

By late November, the comet PanSTARRS (C/2017 T2) is expected to reach a magnitude of 10.5, and will be visible near the bright star Capella in the constellation of Auriga, headed west into Perseus and then Cassiopeia. By the end of the year it may reach a magnitude of 9.5. It should be easily visible with a 6-inch telescope or larger.

Other faint comets viewable by season

Summer

  • 68P/Klemola
  • 168P/Hergenrother

Late summer/early fall

  • PanSTARRS (C/2016 R2)
  • ASASSN (C/2018 N2)

Winter

  • 123P/West-Hartley
  • 78P/Gehrels
  • 60P/Tsuchinshan

Johnny Rodgers